Saints introduce colour to the programme and upset collectors in the process!
(first published in the match programme for St. Mirren v Rangers, 25th August 2019)
St. Mirren v Rangers 1980/81
St. Mirren introduced full colour photography to the match programme for the first time on 29th November 1980 for the Premier League match against Kilmarnock. The new 20-page issue, supplemented by a 24-page full colour insert, improved upon the smaller and predominantly black and white fare on sale three weeks earlier against Rangers.
The cover of the new issue featured one of four colour images taken from the St. Mirren v Aberdeen Drybrough Cup Final played earlier that season. Inside, topical local content and black and white photos were presented amid the unusual choice of yellow spot colour. On the down side, the insert had a strong English bias, having been produced by London-based firm Programme Plus. For collectors of an older age, it was reminiscent of the Football League Review inserts from the early seventies.
This format continued for the remainder of the 1980/81 season, with the different cover photos being alternated for each match. However, this was to prove problematic.
It was standard practice to preprint stocks of the different covers and to choose one on which to overprint the specific match details. However, for the visit of Rangers on 28th March 1981, this arrangement broke down. Perhaps anticipating a larger than normal crowd and an increase in programme sales, the Club issued no less than THREE different covers for an otherwise identical programme. It is not clear when these differences first became apparent but, to this day, many St. Mirren and Rangers programme collectors are still searching for the complete set. Ironically, the attendance was just under 10,000 – much lower than had attended the previous match between the Clubs.
For season 1981/82, four new colour photos were available for selection, featuring Love Street action against Dundee United, Celtic, Partick Thistle and Rangers. The English-based insert was dropped and spot colour, appropriate to the opposition, was used inside to frame the text and black and white action shots.
St. Mirren v Rangers 1981/82
The visit of Rangers for the midweek rearranged match on 10th March 1982 again saw the issue of two different covers in an otherwise identical programme. The Rangers and Dundee United cover photos were used and, for collectors, the issue featuring the latter photo would prove to be the hardest to obtain. The crowd was no more or less than expected, so the need to issue two covers remains unclear. Just over two weeks later, the home match against Airdrie also saw two covers, this time featuring the Celtic and Partick Thistle photos.
St. Mirren v Rangers 1983/84
The first eight issues of the smaller size programme for season 1982/83 each had unique colour cover photos and made use of spot colour and colour photographs inside. However, from mid-November onwards, only two different covers were retained and the rest of the programme reverted to black and white. Fortunately, the new design avoided the problems of multiple covers for the same game.
In September 1983 the cover was again redesigned, this time to use one of two action photos of Saints against Aberdeen and Dundee United. Once again, for the penultimate home match against Rangers on April 28th 1984, copies bearing both cover images were on sale. This information has only recently come to light, with the Dundee United cover appearing to be in the minority.
Despite these anomalies, the best spell in the St. Mirren programme's history thus far was recognised when it won the "Most Improved" and "Best Cover" categories in "Programme Monthly" magazine's Scottish Programme of the Year awards of 1983/84.